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Beijing Housing Solutions

Beijing Overview:

The population of Beijing is estimated as being about 14 Million people (that’s larger than numerous countries) and occupies a total area of 16,807.8 square kilometres. Beijing is bordered by the city of Tianjin on one side and by Hebei Province on the other three sides. Like most major cities in the world Beijing’s administrative area is subdivided into more sections. London and New York have “”Boroughs”; Beijing has “Districts” and “Counties” to be precise Beijing has 16 Districts and two Counties.

Map showing Beijing's 16 Districts and 2 Counties:

(The two Counties are Yanqing County and Miyun County, the rest are Districts).

Image: Map of Beijing - showing the various districts and counties

Despite the fact that most foreigners cannot read Chinese it is relatively simple to understand the location of a specific place if one remembers that Beijing is encompassed by a number of Ring Roads that are divided into quadrants. There is no physical 1st Ring Road but it can be considered to be the circumference of the Forbidden City and Tianamen Square. The Ring Road number increases with distance from the centre. There are currently six Ring Roads and a seventh is planned. It is common practice to explain the location of a specific place by using Ring Roads and geographic quadrants for reference purposes. 

Most of the expatriates, expatriate housing and international schools tend to be concentrated in two Districts (Chaoyang and Shunyi), and most of the Universities (and overseas students) tend to be concentrated in the Haidian District (particularly the Wudaokou area).

Chaoyang District hosts most of Beijing's diplomatic quarters and embassies. The Central Business District (CBD), the Lido Area, Sanlitun Bar Street, Chaoyang Park, the Bookworm library and a highly recommended Export Extras Discount Wooden Furniture Warehouse are (amongst other expatriate haunts) in this district. It is the largest urban district in Beijing. It contains a number of excellent hotels and a number of top international schools. In addition to an abundance of Chinese Department Stores and Supermarkets there are branches of well-established foreign companies such as IKEA, Tesco, and Carrefour(although the selection of items on sale is often very different than in the home country. There are even Cinemas that screen films in English.

Many expatriates live and work in this District in mid-range to luxurious apartment blocks. There are a few villa compounds/gated communities in Chaoyang District but the quality is not as good as those in Shunyi.

The main advantages to living in the Chaoyang District are the ease of access to a full range of facilities and amenities, and a reduced commute time from home to work.

Shunyi District is a Beijing suburb. A large number of expatriate families with children of school age and a generous housing budget live in Shunyi in mid-range to luxurious Villa Compounds / Gated Communities. Four of the top international schools are located here and are within a few minutes drive of each other. The Shunyi Villa area is becoming more and more foreigner friendly. In addition to a large Chinese standard supermarket (from the Jingkelong chain), there are a number of Jenny Luo Supermarkets and Minimarkets that specialise in selling items for foreign consumers in addition to the standard items.

Pinnacle Plaza has already become a haven of for foreigners living in the vicinity. In addition to having the largest Jenny Luo in Shunyi, it has a couple of restaurants, United Family Hospital Out-Patient Clinic, a Starbucks, Subway Sandwich, and even a Domino Pizza to mention just some of the foreigner familiar comforts. Additionally, not too far from Pinnacle Plaza there are another six smaller strips of foreigner friendly shops. One of which (Xi Baixinzhuang), around the corner from the International School of Beijing includes a foreign language (mainly English) lending library called the Bookmark. The main disadvantages to living in Shunyi are limited access to a full range of facilities and amenities and a longer commute time from home to work.

Note for Trivia lovers:

Beijing's International Airport (Beijing Capital International Airport) despite the geographic location is not in Shunyi. It is an extension of Chaoyang District.

Haidian District is the second-largest district in urban Beijing. Most universities are located in Haidian and therefore many of its inhabitants are college students. This fact also affects the actual number of permanent residents in the district. Foreigners often call it the “University District”. There are numerous cheap restaurants and bars that cater specifically to students.

Housing Solutions:

It is relatively easy to find a housing solution in Beijing, especially if you have a generous housing budget. There are lots of Estate Agents (Realtors) that will be delighted to help one (for free, if the budget is over about 5,000RMB/month) to find a suitable new home. They are normally paid a commission (by the Landlord) equivalent to one month’s rent per rental contract. Consequently, although there are some excellent and reputable Estate Agents / Realtors there are many who are not so reputable. In many instances all the old “used car salesman” jokes can be applied to the not so objective Estate Agents.

Most expats rent furnished apartments some, normally with a bigger budget, decided that Serviced Apartments are the correct solution, very few choose unfurnished housing. There are two reasons for this, very few apartments are let unfurnished and secondly there is no rental furniture available.

It is though easy to buy furniture in Beijing ranging in style from Gaobeidian's traditional Chinese reproductions, genuine antiques, modern Chinese and of course IKEA.

For those looking for more of a classical European & American style wooden furniture then the LilyRose Furniture Warehouse in Tongzhou is highly recommended as is their on-line shop http://shop33770007.taobao.com/

China Expert International Ltd is not an Estate Agency and we have no commercial relationship with any of the Landlords or with any of the Developers. When requested to find a housing solution we work with Estate Agents that we believe to be reputable. If, at any instance, we have reason to believe that the Estate Agent is biased, or is misrepresenting the advantages or disadvantages of a particular property we will cease to work with that Agency. Our role is to help the new assignee find the most suitable solution for his/her needs and budget not to maximise the Estate Agent's commission. Our choice of Estate Agent at any one instance is based on the relative strengths of the particular Agency.

Please note that all foreigners are required to register with the PSB (Public Security Bureau i.e Police) within 24 hrs or else pay a 500 RMB fine/day.

For more information please free to contact us. 

Typical Price Ranges for Non Serviced Properties:


2 bedrooms

Cost RMB

3 bedrooms

Cost RMB

4 bedrooms

Cost RMB













3rd Diplomatic




2nd Diplomatic




Typical Price Ranges for Serviced Properties:


2 bedrooms

Cost RMB

3 bedrooms

Cost RMB

4 bedrooms

Cost RMB













3rd Diplomatic




2nd Diplomatic




Note: The above rental ranges may vary (up or down) depending on the specific terms and property. It is only intended as an approximate rental rate range. Actual prices must be verified prior to making any decisions.

China Expert International is not an Estate Agency.

The information is provided as a service and is only for reference purposes. The listings are current but only reflect a small proportion of the available properties.

Please contact us (colin@china-expert.org) for further and fuller information.

Budget Housing Options:

Budget housing options can be found at prices far lower than the above quoted prices both in Haidian and Chaoyang Districts.

These apartments will be in standard Chinese housing. The quality of the these apartments is often not of the best. The plumbing, for example, will normally exclude siphons/U-bends and the unwanted aromas may well travel up from the floors below. Additionally the kitchens will often be extremely small. The fridge will often be in the lounge/dining corner (no room in the kitchen) and the kitchen will be oven-free (Chinese cooking/recipes do not need an oven). This type of housing is excellent for people on a tight budget that want to feel that they are living like a local.

One of the factors that often influence a housing choice is the proximity to a Subway Station

Image: Map of Beijing Subway network

Pets and Housing Solutions:

As in any country a landlord may have a no pet policy.

In Beijing, in addition to the landlord's personal pet policy there are municipal regulations.

All dogs must be registered.

Only one dog is permitted per household.

Only dogs shorter than 35cm (from floor to shoulder) are permitted to live inside the 5thth Ring Road.

Additionally pets have to be quarantined on arrival. However, the length of the quarantine period and the location of the quarantine are, with the help of a Pet Relocation Company, often subject to negotiation. It is not unknown for the quarantine to become "home quarantine".

Please contact us for further details.

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